Blog Entry

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:43 am
Should Rice and Forte blame Chris Johnson(US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Ray Rice and Matt Forte are two of the best running backs in the league. They also play a position that is among the easiest to replace in terms of productivity and that, along with Chris Johnson's no-show performance with the Titans this season after signing a four-year, $53 contract, means that neither should expect a new long-term deal this season. In fact, their respective teams, the Ravens and Bears, plan to slap them with franchise tag this offseason, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Sunday morning.

"I think the Ravens are going to do the right thing … with the contract situation, I'll leave it in their hands," Rice told earlier this month.

Rice's notion of the "right thing" might differ from that of the organization's.

Both Rice and Forte are in the last year of their rookie deals and both have been an integral part of their offense's success. But the reality is that running backs are, in general, fungible (we've been beating this drum for some time). Look no further than DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys' rookie third-round pick who treaded the Rams for 253 (!) rushing yards last week in place of an injured Felix Jones.

Also not helping: Chris Johnson going from one of the league's most explosive backs to its least effective, a transformation that unofficially took place the moment he signed the shiny new deal he had been demanding (Johnson held out for most of training camp before the Titans relented, giving him $30 million guaranteed).

The Ravens and Bears have even more incentive to wait on giving Rice and Forte long-term deals: according to Schefter, franchise numbers for running backs drops next season from $9.45 million to $7.71 million.

It's not a bad consolation prize, but it also offers no security over the long haul. And while we think that it doesn't require much effort to find a replacement-level back, Rice and Forte are exceptions because their offenses go through them. If Ravens fans are frustrated with Joe Flacco now, what state of mind would they be in if Rice wasn't touching the ball 30 times a game? (for a glimpse of what that looks like, just rewatch the Jags debacle from Monday night.) And Forte, perhaps more than the o-line, is responsible for keeping Jay Cutler upright.

But that might not be enough to keep either from getting franchised. It's easy to point fingers at the front office, but Johnson is also responsible, too.

CBS Sports' James Brown, Dan Marino, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe, and Boomer Esiason break down the Monday night matchup at Arrowhead Stadium between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:12 am

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

AP Received his money this year, a $100M deal.  He deserves it, not a thug clown like Johnson is.  AP works at his trade, point in fact hsi fumbling issues from two years ago are no more, and his blocking has improved so he stays on the field now on 3rd down.  He's a combo of Payton/Sanders.

Forte and Rice are both harder workers than CJ, but his deal will cost them.  Maybe he will bounce back, but some players lose motivation once the big deal is in place, and it looks like Johnson is that type of player.

Since: Jun 22, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:49 am

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

Forte will be good for years to come, build your team around this guy and lets get a championship!

Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:15 am

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

I'm sure the players won't agree, but the franchise tag seems to be the new brass ring for RBs. It's only a one-year deal, but it's for big bucks, and given the state of RBs in the NFL these days, that's about as good as it gets. Forte and Rice are indispensable to their offenses right now, but we saw what happened to Forte when the blocking wasn't there: he had an off year. And both these guys should fire their agents. Why pay the 10-whatever% for a contract that's predetermined?

Since: Jun 17, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 5:57 am

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag


Since: Jan 6, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:42 am

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

Ray Rice offers around 40% of the Ravens offensive output (probably a bit less than that after the past two weeks, I guess), and I'd be willign to bet that Matt Forte is around the same amount. Though I would say that RB is one of the easiest positions to replace, these guys seem like exceptions to the rule. Both are outstanding in the passing game as well as rushing. Lesean McCoy is someone in a similar situation, at least when you're talking about offensive utilization.

Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: October 31, 2011 1:02 am

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

I believe AP is on the last year too, but I am pretty sure the Vikings will re-sign AP.  I thought CJ0.4k was in that same category, but he clearly is not.  It's AP in a class of his own.

Foster is a great runner too, but I doubt he will get paid.  DMC is very talented but also not quite as good, and both of those two have injury questions, whereas AP does not.

But a huge part of the blame will go to CJ0.4k.  If he even was mediocre the other RBs would still at least get serious offers.  Now with his selfish bullshit, everyone else will probably get hosed too.  I wouldn't pay Rice, but I probably would for Forte, since the rest of that offense is really not very good.  He definitely carries that offense.

Since: Oct 30, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:35 pm

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

I love everyone bitching about Cris Johnson, no one is taking into account a new coaching system or the absense of kenny britt which would obviously open up the running game a little more...or the predictable play calling in Tennesee.  You also notice no one is mentioning Frank Gore and his new deal...he got paid and is stilla beast.

Since: Oct 11, 2006
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:15 pm

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

Ray Rice is playing out the last year of a rookie deal that pays 550,000K - Don't think he will mind the cool tag for over 7mil.

Since: Feb 22, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 10:39 pm

Prediction: CJ will be bankrupt 5 years after NFL

This guy couldn't figure out how to stay within a $1.5 million budget last year and had to take a $500,000 loan just to make it through the lockout.  It's disgusting to see how some of these guys waste what billions of people will never have the ability to obtain.

What is even more disgusting is that the agents for Rice and Forte will still get their cut of the Franchise Tag contract, even though they failed in every aspect to do their only job for these players - secure a multi year deal.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: October 30, 2011 5:37 pm

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

Great move by the Bears and Ravens. Running backs should never get paid more than 1-2 two years because they break down and they are the easiest players on the team to replace.

Forte and Rice will make great money next year, and if they perform they can make great money the next year as well.  Chris Johnson totally destroyed the long term value of RBs.  Nop team will ever give up a contract like that was stupid in the first place.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or